NATIONAL

Close aide of ex-President Lee grilled over alleged NIS payment

By Jo He-rim
  • Published : Jan 14, 2018 - 18:03
  • Updated : Jan 14, 2018 - 18:03
A former aide of ex-President Lee Myung-bak denied all allegations of bribery involving the nation’s intelligence agency, as he underwent overnight questioning Saturday, prosecutors said Sunday.

Kim Paik-joon, Lee’s former senior secretary for administrative affairs, left the prosecutors’ office in the wee hours of Sunday morning after 11 hours of questioning. 

Kim Paik-joon, a former senior aide to ex-President Lee Myung-bak, appears in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to be questioned over bribery allegations in Seoul on Saturday. (Yonhap)

The 78-year-old aide, who has been dubbed “Lee’s butler” for his close relationship to the former president, is suspected of illicitly receiving money from the National Intelligence Service when he was serving Lee between 2008 and 2012. Kim has allegedly received a total of 400 million won ($378,720) from two former NIS chief, Kim Sung-ho and Won Sei-hoon.

Prosecutors believe that Kim and two other former presidential officials under Lee received a total of some 500 million won from the spy agency. They raided their residences Friday.

The two aides, Kim Hee-joong, one of Lee’s private secretaries, and Kim Jin-mo, an ex-official at Cheong Wa Dae’s civil affairs office, also underwent overnight questioning and have reportedly admitted to part of the allegations. They served Lee’s administration from 2009 to 2011

Prosecutors found evidence of the three former Lee aides receiving kickbacks as they were looking into a bribery case involving former NIS Director Won, who served from February 2009 to March 2013 during the Lee administration.

The investigations into Lee’s aides are among the many that are underway over alleged bribery cases involving the NIS chiefs and two former presidents, Lee and Park Geun-hye.

Park, who was removed from office last March over a massive corruption scandal, is currently standing trial behind the bar.

The prosecution has additionally indicted Park on charges of taking 3.65 billion won from the spy agency. Two of her aides are standing trial over the same charge.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)